18 Jul

I’ve been seeing this burger joint pop up everytime I type Melbourne Burger on Google. See I’ve been on the hunt for a good burger place in Melbourne as, unfortunately, the mum and pop shops with their burger with the lot (bacon, beetroot and eggs..) just doesn’t do it for me.  So far only Grill’d has satisfied my burger cravings but as they say “variety is the spice of life..” and I sure like spices.

So one fine day, while my daughter was at daycare, hubs and I trooped down (well not really trooped down as I hung around while he did his chores i.e work until finally we made our lunch stop) to Collingwood to try the burgers that I’ve read so much about in cyberspace.

Hubs ordered the Theo – which had double patties and double cheese (of course!)


while I had the Denise – jalapeno and sriracha mayo (I did say I like spicy!)Image

both with a side order of chipotle fries =)

I must say after one bite.. I was in love! It was really worth the fuss.. no wonder there was a long queue to order. The patty was thick and juicy and cooked just right – it was really packed with flavour. And the melted cheese.. ahh.. was almost liquidy but the sides were crisp, almost like a cheese flavoured chip. The burger was a good size and they put in just enough filling so that nothing falls off while you eat it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

It was certainly worth the trek to the other side of the city.. and yes, I would definitely go back again. Details for Huxtaburger can be found here

Lechon Sinigang

10 Jul

A dish that’s uniquely Filipino…

That is this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

My first thought was… Adobo!

But then it’s not a dish that I normally make. See I’m not a fan (*gasp!*) I know it’s considered as the un-official National Dish but I just don’t like it.. I don’t have any reasons, just that I don’t.  Hubs thinks it’s very un-patriotic. Hypocrite he calls me, here I am declaring my love for the Philippines but wouldn’t eat adobo.  I just don’t like it.. please don’t judge me…

Now if I was to campaign for a National Dish – it would definitely be.. *drum roll* Sinigang! Like adobo, each region and family have their own version of this dish – you’re also not limited to what meat you can use (you can even use seafood!), to what vegetable accompanies your protein (water spinach, snake beans, white radish..whatever you fancy!) and what souring agent to use (tamarind, kamias, guava, miso, calamansi..). I know the Thais’ are famous for Tom Yum… but we can definitely challenge them head on with our Sinigang and like the much-awaited Pacquiao vs Mayweather bout, it will surely be a good fight!

Now another dish that I love – but seldom get to eat – is Lechon. Seldom as this is only served during special occasions – Christening, Weddings, some Birthdays and Christmas Parties (not for me as I live overseas).  I know that you can buy them per kilo at the kiosks by the supermarket but being overseas I have to wait for the above mentioned events (or going home) before I can savour the taste of this lovely dish – with it’s crispy skin and meat cooked to perfection.. I’ll stop now before I start drooling.

Well as luck would have it, one of our Filipino friends just got married! And in true Filipino fashion we were sent home with a takeaway bag (I love being Filipino!).  By using my amazing mental persuasion and quick ninja reflexes I have prevented hubs from touching the left over lechon until I can buy the other ingredients to complete my Kulinarya challenge.

So now I present my dish for this month (well actually June… better late than never!) : Lechon Sinigang!!!

I started with the “sankutsa”.. or sauteing garlic, onions and tomatoes until it turns into a nice mushy consistency.

Next to join in is the leftover Lechon pieces, quickly followed by rice water (water reserved from washing your rice before cooking).  As I like my Sinigang really sour, I immediately add the souring mix (2 packets – 1 with chili and 1 with gabi) and bring it to a boil. Once it boils  I lower the heat and put in the veggies – starting with the harder ones (as they take longer to cook) and then turn the stove off completely and just let the heat of the soup cook the vegetables. I do this because I like my vegetables to still be “crunchy”. I used okra, snakebeans and white radish.

On a side note, I saw a cooking show once where they dunked the vegetables in iced water first before cooking it. They said this helps to retain the vegetable’s colour. Haven’t tried this yet as I’m very lazy but will do so in the future (maybe…)

Now wasn’t that easy? Serve this with steaming hot rice and fish sauce with chili and you’re all set!


Pancit Palabok

25 May

May in the Philippines is also known as the Fiesta month.  During this time different regions in the country play hosts as they highlight their region’s specialties while giving thanks to their respective Patron Saints for all the blessings during the year.

Now May is also the month wherein we celebrate the special ladies in our lives – our moms!

For this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge, we will present the regional specialties prepared by our moms during the Fiesta Celebration.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

Last Sunday our Baranggay celebrated their Fiesta (which I missed.. again!). During this time, my  mom often takes a day off from cooking and we troop to our relatives to maki-fiesta (which means we eat and get takeaway for free in exchange for greeting them “Happy Fiesta!). As we live in Manila, we don’t really have a specialty dish like most regional areas do. The feast would be a mish mash of different dishes (that often don’t go well with each other.. hehe!) home-cooked and bought and almost always ending with a karaoke session with my uncle singing “Fernando” a few times (each version sounding different – worst – from the last!).

I spent most of my growing up years in Mandaluyong, so did my mom, whereas my dad grew up in Pasay. We don’t have a province.. well we lived in Angono for a while (is that even considered a province? Or just a faraway suburb?) as my dad really wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. But in the end we moved back to Mandaluyong as most of our movements are based there.

One of the more popular food establishments that Mandaluyong was famous for while I was growing up was Tonangs which specializes in Pancit Palabok. I’m not sure if they’re still open.. (actually.. I just checked online and they have a Facebook page! How about that?!) I remember Sandy Daza featuring them on one of his cooking shows when I was younger (yes.. while most kids take advantage of weekend mornings to get some extra sleeping time, I wake up early to watch Cooking with the Daza’s). My mom loved their pancit and we would often stop their on the way home from school to eat merienda or take away a bilao for dinner (during that time it was one of the few restaurants/eating establishments in our area, together with the giant Lugawan along Mandaluyong City Hall Circle that is now occupied by Jollibee/Greenwich).  Come to think of it, it has been a while since I had some Tonangs Pancit, as heaps of establishments have popped in our area, but now that I am being a bit senti I will make it a point to visit this place when I go home – adding this on my TO DO list now.

Pancit is a staple dish that’s always present in Filipino celebrations and Fiestas are no exceptions. Here’s how I make my Pancit Palabok. Again really sorry as I don’t have exact measurements :

Saute garlic and onions in annatto (achuete) oil. Add some flour  and stir until it’s well blended. Now add in some shrimp broth (made from boiling pounded shrimp heads and skin – which flesh you will use later on as a topping). Season with some fish sauce and pepper. This needs to have a thick consistency – which you can achieve by adding more flour (or cornstarch) in.

I like using rice noodles (the fat kind) instead of bihon noodles (which makes my Palabok more of a Pancit Malabon – am I right in assuming that they are the same, save for some difference in toppings, apart from the noodles?). Just follow packet instructions when cooking them but I find that soaking them makes it soggy. So I just add them in briskly boiling water and keep a close eye until it’s cooked.

For toppings, I go with squid rings (quickly cooked in boiling water), shelled prawns (which can either be cooked by boiling or a quick fry with a bit of oil), fried chopped garlic (I saw on a Thai cooking show once that the secret to crunchy golden fried garlic is by putting them in as soon as you put the oil in the pan and cooking it slowly, instead of adding them to already hot oil), chopped spring onions, sliced boiled egg (but as you can see on the photo below, I went for the lazy option and used canned quail eggs instead) and crushed chicharon (pork rind). I don’t like tinapa on my pancit but I know some do. Other topping options are sliced boiled pork and fried tokwa (firm tofu).

Now that everything’s cooked, it’s just a matter of putting them all together and adding some calamansi (or in my case lemon) before serving. Best eaten with some puto (which I made using my much-loved Daza cookbook).

Now excuse me while I have some Fiesta Pancit 😉

Easter Cupcakes

10 Apr

I don’t normally do anything during Easter apart from going to Mass and stuffing my face with chocolates, but this year I thought I’d make cupcakes for my little girl (and the not so little man who will definitely benefit more from this project). 

I searched online for inspirations and chocolate Easter egg cupcakes seem like the best (and easiest) choice. Some featured nests made out of dried coconut shavings which looked really great except I’m not a fan of dried coconut. So I went for the grass icing route.

It’s pretty easy to make, I just made regular vanilla cupcakes but… instead of keeping it plain, I pushed a chocolate egg in the middle. Image

To decorate I used this buttercream recipe which I added a few drops of green food colouring to. Then I used a 233 icing tip to ice the cupcakes before placing the candy coated chocolate on top.

But wait there’s more… I also made sugar bunnies from a mixture of fondant and molding paste (50/50) to adorn my Easter cuppies.


Here’s the finished product :


My little girl surely loved them 😉


Coconut Lychee and Mint Popsicle

8 Apr

Summer is here… well for the other part of the equator that is (Winter is about to start down under!)

So the Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge for the month of March we have been tasked to make our own version of ice candy.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

Summer in the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without iced candy.  It is not uncommon to see makeshift “Ice Candy 4 Sale” signs around some (a lot) of the neighbouring houses – the most popular flavours being Orange (i.e. Ritchie’s Orange diluted – and rediluted again – in water) and Chocolate (i.e. Ovaltine or Milo). Those everyday drinks are placed in small tubelike plastic bags and then frozen rock solid, which you then bite off to get the sticky flavoured ice inside. They sold for 50cents to P1 each – this was during my time so I’m not sure how much they’re worth now!

Just recently, a lot of my Facebook friends have been posting status updates and photos of  Magnum icecream (seriously didn’t get it as I thought Magnum has always been around.. until I was told that it was just launched by local celebrities and trendsetters nonetheless, thus the fuss!) to which I’ve always commented – “Mas masarap ang ice buko”, but then my cousin told me that it’s no longer available… what?! !

Ice buko was my favourite summer treat when I was younger. Yummy coconut juice and strips of coconut meat with red bean on top in one handy stick! How can one go wrong?! So when I’ve read the theme for March, I immediately knew what I was going to do!

Coconut juice although available is something that you need to look for here in Melbourne – coconut meat is another story altogether. I’ve seen a few bags in the frozen section of our local Asian supermarket, but I’m not sure of it’s texture.  And although I have red beans at home, I’ve been saving them for another project – so I decided to make another version of ice buko.

The ingredients :

Coconut water, canned lychee and a few mint leaves.  Easy right? Especially as I’ve just started my very own herb garden.. uhmmm okay that’s a lie as I only have the potted mint plant in our little courtyard – but I’m planning on buying more, so whatever!

I just chopped up the lychee and mint mixed them with the coconut water and placed them in this little plastic contraption and then it went straight into the freezer. Took less than five minutes. If you have more time, you can steep the mint leaves in the coconut water and then fish it out, so you have the minty flavour without the little leaves. Also, I didn’t add sugar as I think the coconut water is sweet enough, but you might do so if you wish.

And then after a few hours… Voila! Ice buko con mint lychee!

Now as I only had one container and a lot of leftover, I decided to put the rest in ice cube trays and then use them for iced tea – as I’m thinking it would go well with black tea (maybe? maybe not? we’ll see!)

What’s been happening…

22 Mar


I’ve quit my job to become a stay at home mum and was actually looking forward to blogging more often (ha!) which obviously hasn’t happened.

I’ve been a bit sad lately as the opportunity to meet someone that I’ve been looking forward to spending time with has been taken away from me. I haven’t told anyone (and am not planning on doing so) as I don’t really deal well with loss and grief. Anyways.. enough about that. I just needed to let it out.

I just finished a cake decorating class (we made a simple wedding cake) and have been baking nonstop this month for hubs birthday and my bub’s monthly birthday. Should (and will) post photos soon.

And have also been going to the city a lot – actually been eating out a lot more now that I don’t have a job! So will share those experiences as well.

How’s life been treating you at the moment? Hope everything is coming up roses (is that the right saying.. well you know what I mean!)

Pork Menudo

20 Feb

Who is your first crush?

And what dish reminds you of said person?

That is this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

Instantly, I had visions of the 80’s – acid washed jeans, mile-high bangs, flouro shirts and *big pause* MENUDO!

Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that my first ever ever crush was Ricky Martin of Menudo. I remember, he was 12 and I was 6, he was a member of the biggest boyband at that time and I can’t even carry a tune (even now… really shames me when people ask me if I’m a good singer coz I’m Filipino.. anyhoo!), he was travelling all over the world promoting his album while my furthest destination was my school via the school service… but despite those differences we still found ourselves madly in love with each other – okay so it was a one-sided relationship which is (obviously) mainly from my end.

Once my brother caught me watching their music video (with Lea Salonga, I think that was) on TV wide-eyed (and probably with my mouth hanging open and a bit of drool on the side) and being the big brother that he was proceeded to tease me. I remember crying and walking out, but quickly coming back once I saw that the coast was clear.

Years later our paths crossed again… this time I was already in College and he a solo star. Although the love was still there, unfortunately, it wasn’t as strong as when we were younger. This, however, didn’t stop me from taking Spanish as an elective so I can impress him with my linguistic skills (if and) when we meet. Completely ignoring the fact that he speaks perfect English but whatever!

So now I present you my dish, one that I never made until now. See I’m not a big fan of tomato based stews so my poor husband has to wait until we go home for Christmas so that he can eat his (according to him) one of his favourite dishes (top three he said) menudo.

Having never made this dish, I dialled (or texted) a friend – otherwise known as my mom. She quickly replied with her basic instructions, so again all the measurements on this dish were just done by feel.

I started by browning pork belly cubes in a bit of oil, once they’re done I sauteed chopped onions and then added the minced garlic once the onions were soft and transparent (segue to.. I once heard Kris Aquino – man I hate her – say that she learned that when sauteing you should start with onions as the garlic burns and becomes bitter, so much as I hate her, this tip actually made sense and I’ve been using it since then). Then I added quarter pieces of tomatoes. Once everything was nice and mushy, I added some sliced chorizo (in replacement of hotdogs as we don’t have tender juicy or tender meaty here and the red hotdogs aren’t really that good.. so I thought it’s a Spanish dish might as well add a Spanish hotdog eeer sausage) I placed the pork back and added strips of red bell pepper, green peas, cubed potatoes and cubed carrots and covered everything with just enough tomato sauce. Simmer until nice and bubbly and then added raisins (or sultanas as we call them here) and strips of pork liver. Just leave it simmering for a few minutes more until the liver is cooked. Of course, season season season as all those TV chefs would say.

Above is my attempt at plating (needs more practice I think!)

Husband was really happy that I made menudo and knowing that I never really liked this particular dish was extra curious as to why I cooked it. I didn’t tell him the truth as it might hurt his feelings (he thinks he’s my first love.. haha!) but was happy to eat it nonetheless.

Some little points re : making this dish – chorizo is actually a good replacement for hotdogs, but since most of the chorizo sold here is fresh (i.e soft and not smoked) I would drop it in last minute along with the liver next time as some disappeared into the sauce. Also, my mom mentioned garbanzos (or chickpeas) but I didn’t include it as I’m not a fan. And another thing, I know that I said menudo is a Spanish dish, but then I remember eating Mexican menudo in the US – different though as it had offal and wasn’t sweet-ish like the Filipino version.

Noche Buena Meal – Morcon

16 Feb

Like all things, my post is mega-delayed (hmmm…)

I came back from my “extended” Christmas holidays in Manila, wishing it was longer and regretting that I haven’t eaten some chicken inasal *sigh*.

Something that I look forward to is the end of the year; since I moved to Australia, I’ve spent six of my seven Christmases in Manila. Nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to a Filipino Christmas – you can feel it everywhere you go; Christmas and it’s undeniable presence! From the traditional Simbang Gabi, to the extended mall hours (bad for the budget!), to the foodie markets and tiangges and of course, my favourite Puto Bumbong and Bibingka (there’s no way I’m going to miss out on any of these!) More importantly, my family are all based in Manila and Christmas won’t be the same if my Christmas Eve dinner wasn’t spent with them.

Well, this month Kulinarya’s theme (which I’m co-hosting! *slaps wrist* – bad host!) is Noche Buena – more specifically a Noche Buena menu.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

I have been thinking about my mom’s morcon a few months before Christmas, coincidentally my brother has been as well! So I nagged (and guilted) my mom into making one for us. Morcon was always a Christmas food for me, it was one of those things that only pop up during this season, along with embutido actually.. but for a long time, we haven’t had any for Christmas. I think the last one that I had was way back in College, and that was 11 years ago (man I’m old!).

So here’s my mom’s morcon recipe, (I don’t have measurements, sorry coz as you know these things are made by “feel”):

First off is to marinade the beef (like a long flat one so it can be rolled after, dunno what the cut is, should have asked) in soy sauce, vinegar and pepper. Afterwhich, you layer on raisins, pickle relish, cheddar cheese, hotdogs, boiled eggs, ham, chorizo de bilbao on the beef and then roll everything in. You then secure everything with a string (believe me this takes patience). Once it’s ready you brown it on a pan, remove and on the same pan saute garlic, onion and lots of tomatoes – which you then bring to a boil until the tomatoes turn into a sauce. Place the morcon roll into the sauce and simmer until tender.

Looks easy huh? Well, apart from the string issues, everything is actually quite easy to do. Like most things, this tastes better a day or two after cooking. Of course, you remove the string and then slice them up (in my case chopped) before serving.

Now, as the challenge actually calls for a whole menu and not just a dish, what would I pair this with? For selfish reasons, I asked for this challenge as I’m not good with food pairing and thought I could get some ideas from other Kulinarya members. I, however, know what I want to eat so.. my ideal Christmas menu would be : first off my mom’s morcon, my tito’s (famous) crispy pata, roasted chicken, crabs in garlic and oyster sauce that my mom also makes and Max’s pancit canton (oh I love it, even more than the chicken itself!) and of course, leche flan – lots and lots of it! I know my ideal menu can also cause a mild heart attack a few hours after consuming but what the heck? It’s Christmas and what better way to go than to have all these delicious dishes beforehand?


24 Nov

Lugaw or rice porridge is my ultimate comfort food… there’s no other dish that even comes close. Lagnat (fever), sipon (colds) and just plain may sakit (sick)… lugaw is the only food I crave. Actually, I don’t need to be sick to enjoy my lugaw. I love it in sickness and in health!

I have a lot of “lugaw memories”.. When I was younger we used to live in Angono and on our way home, often we’ll stop by (not sure if this is the right name) “Lugawan sa Halamanan” and we would eat lugaw (which incidentally is also my dad’s fave) and they always have large old ketchup bottles full of kalamansi sans the pips. I wonder if that place is still open? When we moved permanently to Mandaluyong, I also remember everytime my mom goes to market – in Kalentong – I would always ask her to buy me lugaw. She gets them from this carinderia in the middle of the market and it’s the tastiest, yummiest lugaw I ever had. During highschool, we always go to this small canteen in front of our school after our class and eat pisong (one peso) lugaw – don’t think you can find that anywhere now! (I think I just showed my age with that last memory). Moving to Melbourne, lugaw is also one of the best dishes to eat during the cold winters. My husband who doesn’t love soupy dishes (except Sinigang) has learnt to enjoy it now.

Well, this month Kulinarya’s theme is LUGAW.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

Although it’s already starting to get warm (and then cold again – Melbourne weather is as unpredictable as ever!) I was happy to find a good excuse to make and eat my favourite dish.

I decided to just make the lugaw that I enjoy.. with tuwalya (beef offal), chicken drumsticks and hard boiled eggs. Topped with lots of spring onion and fried chopped garlic.

I started with sauteing diced onions and when it started to soften, adding chopped garlic and ginger. I then added the chicken drumstick and browned them a bit. Next comes the uncooked rice and then the broth.

While this is happening, I have cleaned and pressure cooked the offal. Sliced it and then dropped in my lugaw mixture.

On my trip to the Pinoy store I came upon a packet of “suahe” or Philippine saffron. I remember my mom using this on her lugaw to give it a bit more flavour and that nice yellow colouring. So I added some to my lugaw as well.

One thing that I did different was to cook the lugaw using my pressure cooker. You see I have a bad habit of watching TV.. hmmm.. and then coming back and having crust at the bottom of the pan (which can be easily salvaged, but still..) and guess what? It worked perfectly. Although I got scared at first coz it looked like “sinaing” but when I mixed it, it was soft and soupy. Perfectly cooked!

Lugaw like Batman, although good on it’s own is even better with Robin. Or in this case.. tokwa’t baboy. Although I go to an Asian market, for some unknown reason there were a lot of Caucasians that day and the all looked at me weirdly when I bought pigs ears for my tokwa’t baboy. Hehe!

Tokwa’t baboy is easy peasy.. Boil the pigs ears (or cut of your choice) I then cut it into bite size pieces and deep fried in hot oil. Same goes for the tokwa, I like them crispy, so I cubed them and then deep fried. I then mixed them in with vinegar, garlic, soysauce and chopped chili. Yum yum!


Happy Halloween

1 Nov

Happy Halloween

We don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia, but here in Melbourne it’s still a holiday because of Melbourne Cup (Horse Racing.. ). How I wish we Halloween is big here, any excuse to put my daughter in a costume! haha!
Although I must say that I was surprised to find trick or treaters on our front door last night!
Anyhoo… I made some mummy cuppies to celebrate this holiday!